Records of Howietoun and Northern Fisheries Co Ltd, Howietoun, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Company minute book 1915-1963
  • Company minutes 1919-1947
  • Abstracts of accounts and other financial records 1915-1953
  • Business correspondence 1919-1958 (incomplete)
  • Vouchers of accounts 1923-1956
  • Valuation of plant at Inverness 1917-1938
  • Leases 1915-1939
  • Articles of association and correspondence on company legal matters, 1914-1918
  • Share ledger 1915-1941
  • Letter books 1880-1957
  • Bank books 1901-1958 (incomplete)
  • Labourers’ wages books 1917-1958
  • Equipment and wages ledgers 1928-1948
  • Manager’s cash books 1943-1963
  • Cashbooks, 1874-1973
  • Legal and financial papers 20th century
  • Ledger 1874-1891
  • Customer account book 1905-1947 (incomplete)
  • Customer address book 1926
  • Order-book 1905-1916
  • Account book 1907-1914
  • Purchases book 1905-1912
  • Notes on fish hatching and sales 1957-1964
  • Notebooks on fish dispatch and general pisciculture 1873-1926 (incomplete)
  • Notes and reports on fish stocks 1927-1946
  • Tabular accounts of spawning 1882-1887
  • Essay on the Salmon Disease 1881
  • Trout sales 1916-1972
  • Supply and receipt of trout ledgers 1914-1957
  • Weather notes 1952-1967
  • Business diaries 1972-1978
  • Photographs c1870-1983
  • Miscellaneous papers 1878-1885
  • Accounts and correspondence relating to Barnton, Sauchie and Bannockburn estates and to Lady Steel-Maitland's executry 1938-1948.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir James Ramsay Gibson Maitland Bt (1848-1897 ) was the first of his family to be interested in aquaculture, but there had been much uncertainty about the viability of breeding and rearing fish in captivity in the 1860s. Maitland moved to Craigend on his father’s estate near Stirling in 1873 and began to experiment immediately with fish-hatching, unsuccessfully; but in 1874 he realized that Howietoun was the better site for his work, and the first building work for his ponds occurred there in  1874 . The fishery was swiftly into production, although after a few years Maitland realized that he had to realign the ponds to ensure that they benefited from the best situation. After his father’s death in 1876 Maitland became involved in county business in Stirlingshire; but continued his fisheries work, and began to export over to New Zealand in  1881 , at first unsuccessfully but soon with increasing success following careful attention to the detail of packaging the ova for travel. His pioneering work inspired others world-wide.

After Sir James died in  1897 , his daughter, Mary (1871-1944 ), who succeeded him in the estates, and her husband,  Arthur Herbert Drummond Ramsay-Steel-Maitland (1876-1935 ) (created a baronet in 1917), also had interests in the fishery; and in 1914 the Howietoun and Northern Fisheries Co Ltd was formed, as a private limited company (Company no. SC 9291). The company's memorandum of association declared that amongst the company's objects were: To carry on anywhere the business of pisciculture, and for that purpose to acquire and take over as a going concern the undertaking of the Howietoun and Northern Fisheries Company (comprising the amalgamated undertakings of the Howietoun Fishery Company and the Northern Fisheries Company). The latter two businesses had been amalgamated formally on 25 July  1913 . The Northern Fisheries was the business of Peter D Malloch and William MacNicol, located in Perthshire and Invernessshire. The fishery had become a significant source of local employment as their products grew in popularity. The deaths of Sir Arthur and his spouse brought only a few changes to the structure of the company board, as the fishery was an integral part of the family estates. The fishery’s products remained in demand, for example to stock the Hydro-Electric reservoirs, where there was a considerable angling market. Family deaths brought changes in the 1960s, however, including the sale of about half of the original Sauchie estate, and Howietoun fishery was sold as well, one of the new owners having worked for many years for the fishery. Efforts were made to shift from the original emphasis on brown trout to rainbow trout, but this proved unsuccessful; and similarly involvement in Shetland fish farming was not fruitful.

The fishery was rescued by the involvement of the new  Stirling University ’s Institute of Aquaculture, growing from a felt-for need to conduct research into fish disease. Howietoun’s reputation and proximity to the University was felicitous. In  1979  the University agreed to buy the fishery, to permit academic research but also to try to run it commercially. A Howietoun Management Committee was set up to run the fishery, which reported to the University Court. Repairs and restocking of the fishery were carried out. Brown trout and salmon became the focus of activities, rather than rainbow trout, and Howietoun re-established itself as an exporter of fish, with world-renowned products. Two fish farming operations were set up to represent the commercial activities: Stirling Salmon Ltd (Company no. SC102276), and Stirling Aquatic Technology Ltd (Company no. SC101319). Howietoun and Northern Fisheries Co Ltd was dissolved on 24 April  1984 .


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Additional Information

Fonds level description compiled by H M Kemp and Alan Borthwick, Scottish Archive Network project, 10 May 2002.

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